MCCL Annual Report 2006-2007

Committee Membership

  • Debbora Battaglia
  • Kris Bergbom
  • Lee Bowie
  • Liz Braun
  • Mufaro Kanyangarara '07
  • Naa Abia Ofosu-Amaah '10
  • Sarah Oelker, Elizabeth Young
  • Web support: Yingting Qiang '09

This year, the committee was technically acephalous: no one person was chair, and all made contributions based on their areas of experience and/or expertise, and based on their available time, or propensity to impulse or to organization. We look forward to electing a chair when our new faculty representatives join us to fill out the committee next fall, and hardened veterans return.
 
The committee met once a week throughout the term. 

What We Do

As many of you know, the committee (MCCL) serves two broad functions in relation to the goal of the College to establish cultural diversity as an ongoing fact of life, and as an educational resource for all.

First, we are charged with promoting and overseeing the goals of the Diverse Community Commission (DCC) and reporting our findings to the community. We also recommend corrections in course to the Dean of the College. 

In addition, the committee fosters a climate of inclusiveness and orients meaningful social action in all realms of social and cultural diversity on campus, and in relations with communities beyond our gates.

This Year’s Projects

We have done a great deal this year to raise diversity awareness proactively on a community-wide scale, and to respond to community concerns.

I. Community Report on Diversity and Inclusiveness

Perhaps our most significant accomplishment this year is the creation of the Community Report on Diversity and Inclusion website. Keeping track of the progress of the DCC recommendations has been a large job for the MCCL.  A multi-layered website will help the community accomplish this task and keep the DCC's goals in view.  The site will highlight what has been accomplished and what remains to be done.

This was the work of members Kris Bergbom and Sarah Oelker, with web consultant Yingting Qiang '09. The site is beautifully designed, informative, interactive, and can be updated in direct response to initiatives and problems that flow from our more and more established community commitment to diversity. The site is nearly ready for launch, and will make its official debut in the fall.

II. Making Class Visible

Our focus this year was on social class, which we take to be an important diversity factor in our community relations and intellectual lives. In a move to acknowledge Mount Holyoke’s rich socioeconomic and cultural diversity, and to promote conversation and social exchange across different sites of class consciousness, we sponsored and organized a keynote project on Making Class Visible. This project included the offering of a 2-unit January Term class (Anthropology J-222 taught by Debbora Battaglia) that drew on ethnographic studies of class culture to orient students to their own class-based identity practices and socioeconomic challenges and privileges, and gave them tools to undertake videographic projects in which students interviewed faculty, staff, administrators, and other students, and created their own Mount Holyoke “home movies.” Students shot approximately 30 hours of digital footage, which became the basis of an independent group project in the spring by three students who created a 20-minutes film, “Making Class Visible: A Mount Holyoke Home Movie.”

This original film was screened in March at a community-wide forum, Making Class Visible: A Mount Holyoke Community Forum. Supported by a student-designed publicity campaign and a major website that was created and maintained by students from the J-Term class, the event filled Chapin Auditorium. Childcare was provided, to encourage attendance. In addition to the screening, the forum gave the audience an opportunity to hear and engage with a panel of staff, faculty, students, and alumnae, speaking from their experiences of and commitment to issues of social class. Questions from the audience are also collected and posted on the Making Class Visible website.

III. Inclusiveness Initiative Fund

The Inclusiveness Initiatives Fund (IIF), recommended by the Diverse Community Commission (DCC) and administered by the MCCL, awards $30,000 a year of funds derived mostly from the President's office. The fund seeks to support projects that will embed deeply the goals of the DCC report. This year's focus for the MCCL has been on issues of social and economic class and class stereotyping.

With the goal of weaving diversity through the life of the college on an ongoing basis, the Inclusiveness Initiative Fund has continued to support a broad range of provocative and educational events and programming. Funds for these events are allocated twice annually, and in small amounts on a rolling basis. We welcome faculty, staff, and student submissions to scheduled deadlines and on a rolling basis.

The attached list gives further details of funded events – many of which packed rooms to overflowing.

IV. Oversight

In our oversight function, the committee was active this year. Early in the year, we reviewed new protocols for bias incidents and hate crimes. These will be implemented in the fall, and rendered more accessible to the college community.

We also engaged in and encouraged the hiring of a new Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Gladys Moore, who joins us in fall 2007. And we are confident that the President will soon be announcing the hiring of a new Ombudsperson.

The committee also noted the need for regular childcare support for faculty, staff, and students with children who might wish to attend and participate in community events.

Plans for 2007-2008

Next year, we plan to draw attention to a wide range of issues at Mount Holyoke, addressing the question “Who’s Not at the Table?”  In particular, we are concerned to continue to draw attention to matters of class privilege, stereotyping, and the value of exchanges across diverse socio-economically-linked sites of local knowledge. In addition, we plan to draw attention to issues of political diversity, religious diversity, and new developments in the discourse of gender diversity, engaging the Centers, faculty representatives, and the Staff Council in conversations and models for weaving these forms of diversity into our everyday lives.